Paper No. 233-5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM
PREPARING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCHOLARS THROUGH GIS AND CITIZEN SCIENCE IN COMMUNITY-BASED RESEARCH ON MARINE DEBRIS AND FLOODING IN HOPKINS, BELIZE
Tenets of experiential education exemplify student-centered learning whereby skills and knowledge are gained through hands-on activities and guided reflection often with the purpose of cultivating meaningful contributions to the real world. The model featured in this presentation is a NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Site (#1560015) that initially developed out of a May study abroad course focused on building skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through service-learning fieldwork with communities around Belize. Partners over the years for varying projects have included non-profit organizations, local schools, village councils, and more. Our work is now centered primarily in the village of Hopkins, where in collaboration with community members as well as faculty and students from the University of Belize, our REU scholars lead participatory GIS mapping efforts of coastal issues related to marine debris and flooding hazards. Tablets, drones, quantitative as well as qualitative methods are utilized in combination with ArcGIS Collector and ArcGIS Online to develop open source data and maps to help visualize aspects of coastal issues that can aid in affecting change in management and planning efforts. Feedback from students indicates that the nature of our collaborative work has had a lasting impact in a multitude of ways including strong acquisition of knowledge and skills in geoscience education, contributions to rewarding deliverables, and broadened perceptions of research approaches through experiential learning and fostering citizen scientists in a community-based model.